JM Barrie’s Peter Pan has always been one of my favorite stories. As a child I was mesmerized by Mary Martin’s stage performance, and, as an early reader, the book was one of the first “literary classics” I read. I loved it all. The flying, the pirates, the adventure, the humor. I wanted to BE Peter Pan.
Last night, I went with one of my sons to watch a stage production of Peter Pan. Watching him take in the show was the highlight of my night. The way his eyes lit up as the crocodile slithered onto stage. His whisper as he asked if Peter Pan would really drink the poison Captain Hook left for him. The treasured moment when he showed he believed in fairies by enthusiastically adding his claps to the audience’s to bring Tinkerbell back to life.
Afterwards, I told him how much I loved the story of Peter Pan as a child. I told him I once tried to catch a fairy by setting a sparkly, sticky trap, knowing that if I could just get some fairy dust I might be able to fly. I listened as he planned out loud, adding his 21st Century revisions to my simplistic fairy trap. (It was a much better design after adding cameras, robotic arms, and sparkle-sensors.)
As I drove home I thought of how much that night resembled the last scene in Peter Pan. Only moments before, Wendy returns home from Neverland. With one quick scene change, Peter arrives at the nursery to find Wendy a grown woman, her own child sleeping nearby. While Peter never did grow up, Wendy has, so her daughter takes her place in the next adventure in Neverland.
While I so vividly remember my childhood fascination with the story of Peter Pan, I am now “ever so much more than twenty” and, like Wendy, I find myself passing the treasured tale on to my own children.
And though I may try to make them promise they won’t grow up, it all seems to happen in the blink of an eye. One simple scene change. Continue reading